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  • Writer's pictureKyriakos Tsinivits

Aussievision’s Ukrainian National Final Vidbir 2020 rankings 1st to 6th

Over the last few weeks the Ukrainian National Final ‘Vidbir 2020’ has taken place where 16 artists have competed in two Semi Finals. The six successful acts from the semi finals have now progressed to the Final which will take place on 22 February in Europe and 23 February in Australia.

The final is have many guest performers including Jamala and Verka Serduchka. Verka is expected to perform their latest single ‘Make It Rain Champagne’.

The voting will be 50/50. The jury will make up 50% of the results and the Ukrainian public will make up the remaining 50%.

To offer our own opinion on the performances, the Aussievision team ranked all the songs that will be in the Final based on their semi final performances. Below is our full ranking list with comments from our team from 1st place to 6th.

1st - Khayat - Call For Love (89 points)

  • Highs: 12 points from Dale, Mike, Steve and Kyriakos. 10 points from Laura and Emma

  • Lows: 6 points from Fleur

Steve - ‘Call For Love’ by KHAYAT, a 2019 Vidbir competitor, instantly grabbed my attention and held it. Whilst I have occasional issues with Andriy’s vocals, I found him, the performance and the staging/camerawork compelling. I even liked the cheesy telephone hand gesture.

Dale - From the opening few bars you know this is modern Eastern pop. This sounds like modern Ukrainian song with eastern elements in the chorus instrumentation and vocal. I'm not sure on that lo-oo-oove chorus vocal, but the rest of it is top notch. I even love the green lighting for the staging which is normally a big no-no in my books. Easily the best overall package for me.

Mike - Definitely the best overall package of the Final songs. The song is contemporary and has some nice traditional elements infused into it. I’m not sure if I’m totally convinced with Khayat’s vocal style, but it suits the song.

Kyriakos - From the first listen of ‘Call for Love’ I knew it had Eurovision written all over it. It’s ‘Siren Song’ 2.0 and I love it. I enjoyed his staging and I know that he will take it to another place if it gets to Eurovision.

Emma - What a banger!  I really liked the dance moves from the Ukrainian Bernard Tomic lookalike and his backup dancers however the vocals were quite weak in parts and the wailing wasn’t particularly pleasing to the ear.  This could be a very popular choice though given its fast tempo.

Laura - A very straightforward Eastern European dance pop number, which is simple yet catchy. I know that sonically, there will be many comparisons to ‘Siren Song’ and Maruv’s discography. The breakdown in particular is especially enjoyable, but it’s the staging and live performance of ‘Call For Love’ that really sells it in my opinion, making it into an extremely appealing overall package. When I first saw that green light ring at the start of the song and the accompanying tilting camera angles, I thought I was watching a Eurovision song from 2050. Very impressive!

Ruby - As a stage show I really enjoy this entry – however the song itself I’m not too keen on, apart from the choruses. I really feel as though something is missing in the verses to match the energy of the rest of the song.

Liv - Interesting mix of pop and ethnic – I like the general idea of this song and staging but it just lacks a little bit in both areas…the intonation is a little difficult to look beyond and the staging is repetitive. Overall a fun little number that I will enjoy more as a studio.

Fleur - Wow, this sounds like something from the Belarussian auditions! It’s certainly interesting and is rather memorable. It is the biggest guilty pleasure from this year’s line up and as endearing as it is, I just cannot see this win. With a bit of a re-vamp, this could go places…but maybe not to Eurovision.

2nd - Go_A - Соловей (Solovey) (85 points)

  • Highs: 12 points from Fleur, Ruby, and Emma. 10 points from Dale and Mike.

  • Lows: 5 points (Last Place) from Steve

Fleur - I like this song. It is quite possibly my favourite but I cannot say that I am overly fond the lead singer’s vocals. Out of the six songs, I think that this has the most going for it. It does have a good ethnic beat to it. I’m here for ethnic bangers. Don’t disappoint me Ukraine.

Ruby - I completely love this – and may have had this on repeat since the first semi-final. The intersection of folk Slavic sounds with modern instrumentation, the drums (!), and the incredible vocals, make this, in my mind, a Ukrainian masterpiece… and I may be heartbroken when this doesn’t win.

Emma - I’m giving this song my 12 points as it’s the best all round package IMO.  I like that the song is sung in Ukrainian and the vocal style reminds me very much of Poland’s Tulia from last year’s contest.  The hip swaying dance section in the middle breaks the song up nicely.  My concern is that there is a lot going on, particularly towards the end of the song where it was very loud and shouty.  Three minutes of this may be too much for some people.

Dale - The lead singer for this is striking and grabs your attention. Very traditional Eastern vocal undercut with great modern production. The vocal will be grating to many, and perhaps the song runs out of steam a few minutes in, but this has ‘something’.

Mike - The really striking traditional-style vocal delivery is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but I really like it. The song is underpinned with a good beat and there’s an interesting meld of contemporary and tradition elements throughout the song.

Liv - Always good to see a more ethnic traditional spin in national finals and this is no exception. I love the commitment to the intensity and the general vibe. This is a lowkey ethnic vibe and it has a hypnotic touch.

Laura - I like the way this song combines traditional Ukrainian sounds with modern instrumentation. Songs that feature the flute are always a plus in my eyes and the live performance in the semi final was solid.

Steve - A drum & bass meets traditional ethno-Ukrainian song - really not a genre of music for me (although all credit for the experimentation!). I don’t like the style of singing and find it ironic that the title translates to ‘Nightingale’, a beautiful songbird. Plus, that sopilka sounds far too like a recorder, surely the least tuneful instrument ever created. Inevitably, my comments mean that this will be crowned the winner of Vidbir 2020.

3rd - Кrutь - 99 (80 points)

  • Highs: 12 points from Liv and Laura. 10 points from Fleur and Ruby

  • Lows: 6 points from Steve and Kyriakos

Liv - What a delightful entry. Some slight wandering intonation and diction issues but overall a lovely vocal. Both can be improved before Rotterdam if chosen. A nice combination of real instrumentation and synthesised. Pretty staging and overall a nice message and concept. Unique. I really enjoyed this.

Laura - I might have an irrational love for this song. KRUTЬ reminds me of Kate Miller-Heidke’s music, especially her earlier discography, but with a Ukrainian twist. This song is charming and sweet, with cute animations of animals being played in the background behind her. The addition of the bandura is also a nice touch. The chorus gets stuck in my head on a daily basis! ‘99’ is artistic without being pretentious, and that, combined with its positivity, is what I love about it!

Fleur - I am mesmerised by that instrument, it gives the song a hypnotic feel which makes it more interesting. I quite like this. She has the ideal voice for this song. I am not sure how it would go on a bigger stage but this could be a sleeper hit in this year’s competition. Make with that what you will.

Ruby - I can see why this won its semi-final! The standout uses of the bandura mixed with the lingering vocals creates such a lovely enchanting atmosphere that I am utterly drawn to. The graphics and staging are sensational, however, despite all of the above, I get somewhat bored by the repetitiveness of ’99’.

Dale - The staging for this is absolutely fantastic. The use of the traditional instrument and the ethereal chorus are compelling, but at ultimately it rests on 'la, la, la' at times which I'm not a massive fan of. But overall a really 'interesting' traditional entry which I'm still not quite sure how I feel about!

Mike - Another song with strong traditional elements. A very varied vocal with some nice ethereal touches at the start. The song itself is builds well throughout and keeps me interested. Not really my thing however.

Emma - I loved the staging on this one which may have been designed to distract from the song.  Also enjoyed seeing a new instrument (the bandura) being played.  Sounded lovely on the higher range but vocals were off in the lower register.  Visually a very beautiful performance.

Steve - A tormented lullaby featuring a bandura, a traditional Ukrainian stringed instrument. I can’t say I liked this song, I just ever so slightly preferred it to one of the others. Perhaps the graphics featuring a cat just saved it from finishing in last place for me.

4th - Tvorchi - Bonfire (65 points)

  • Highs: 10 points from Liv and Kyriakos

  • Lows: 6 points from Dale and Emma. 5 points (Last Place) from Fleur

Liv -This really has some classic Vidbir vibes all over it – boy when drops it sure drops. In it’s current form staging is a bit lacking but I have no doubt if this does to Rotterdam the Ukraine will pull out all the stops in usual fashion. This is eastern pop all over but will also appeal to a lot of western ears…in saying this it does sound quite dated to me. The formula of smooth male vocal on top of synth drop like this has been done for a while now. I still like it regardless but I am weary of juries not loving this in The Netherlands.

Laura - I didn’t think the live performance was as strong as my top 3 songs and hip hop isn’t a genre often seen at Eurovision, so I was a bit surprised to hear that this was one of the favourites to win. However, the transition from piano in the beginning of the song to the trap breakdown is very smooth and the live performance still has every chance of improving in the final.

Dale - This won the jury and public in its semi final and I'm not sure why. He's an intersting guy with presence but I'm not big on the song, the vocal diction, the staging... everything really. I must be missing something!

Kyriakos - I was more captivated by their performance than I was with their song before the semi final. The break down is interesting and quirky. I also applaud the songs uniqueness. The duo work well together.

Ruby - I’m a big fan of Jeffery’s voice (the vocalist of the duo), and while this is a really enjoyable entry, the heavy electronic tones put me off ranking this entry any higher. Perhaps some more complex staging could help also.

Mike - The song changes tempo a few times and it all feels a little messy. The Jeffrey’s vocal tone is interesting, but he looked and sounded strained in the Semi Final.  It’s an interesting overall package.

Emma - I really didn’t enjoy this song and found it a bit of a hot mess.  Vocals weren’t particularly good and I struggle to find anything good to say about it.

Steve - Dressing gown-clad TVORCHI has a beautiful soulful voice, but I just find the song too messy. It’s a little all over the place and I can’t follow the thread of it.

Fleur - He looks like Huggy Bear from ‘Starsky and Hutch’. Other than that, I really don’t have the words to describe this.

5th - Jerry Heil - #Vegan (58 points)

  • Highs: 10 points from Steve

  • Lows: 6 points from Mike, Liv, Laura, and Ruby. 5 points (Last Place) from Kyriakos and Emma

Steve - Jerry Heil, Ukraine’s answer to Björk (?), is a guilty pleasure for me. The lyrics are “batshit” crazy, covering a Tinder date, singing the praises of rocket and tofu (but not mum’s paella) and including such classic lines as “Holy moly guacomole” and - my personal favourite - “I can’t even call you honey”. Combined with kooky costumes, odd dancing and a “Las Vegan”-themed set, this genuinely made me LOL.

Laura - A novel concept, but if this is supposed to be a joke song, the joke takes a few listens to land, and I found those few listens to be quite grating. It lacks immediacy, and there were a few live vocal hiccups in the semi, but again, this has every chance of improving in the final performance.

Liv - I liked the staging I guess. It has some aspects I quite liked but overall it is a bit irritating.

Dale - While other songs stand out for their authentic 'Ukrainianness' this is cheesy novelty english spoken cheese with staging to match. An entertaining three minutes, but as an overall package no.

Fleur -I’m sure that this is a serious well-meaning song but it comes across as novelty, and not in a good way. The staging will need a fair few improvements. It’s giving me ‘Wo sind die Katzen’ vibes from Eesti Laul last year.

Ruby - I’m not entirely sure what I just watched but am mostly sure I didn’t enjoy it.  Definitely has a strong image and message, but my biggest beef is with the backflips the instrumentation has between styles, none of which I’m particularly fond of the end result of.

Mike - Jerry’s semi final presentation was eye-catching. However the vocal was complete mess and very difficult to understand, which may have been blessing considering the ludicrous lyrics. The song itself is simple but kinda catchy.

Emma - The Ukrainian version of ‘I Am Gay’...the big question – is she actually vegan?  I don’t mind a good novelty song but this is pointless and has no place in this final.

Kyriakos - The ‘Vegan’ song, no. I support veganism but not this song.

6th - David Axelrod - Horizon (55 points)

  • Highs: 8 points from Steve and Fleur

  • Lows: 5 points (Last Place) from Liv, Dale, Mike, Ruby and Laura

Fleur - We’ve heard enough of these songs this year. We don’t need another ballad, although this is solid. There’s not too much wrong with it, it’s just not overly memorable. I must admit that his pronunciation of ‘Horizon’ bugs me a little- it sounds like he’s saying ‘rise up’. It’s a bit of a problem when it is the title of the song.

Steve - A classic ballad sung well by a man with an impressive mane of hair who is backed by angels. It feels like the safest option (making it therefore unlikely to head to Rotterdam), but I rather like this mainstream-sounding track.

Kyriakos - I absolutely loved this song before the semi final. It was my favourite song until I saw the live performance and released how outdated it was. It is still a guilty pleasure for me.

Emma - Probably the most ‘normal’ of the songs in the final – this is very stereotypical Eurovision right down to the wind machine.  Staging reminds me of Roko from Croatia in 2019.  Good quality song but don’t think it stands out enough from the pack to do particularly well at Eurovision.

Liv - Dated but charming.

Dale - This has a good vocal and he has compelling hair which really works that wind machine, however this song feels dated and out of place in this line up.

Ruby - Dated and uninteresting, I’m simply not a fan of David’s angelic themed ballad mishap.

Mike - Very ‘by numbers’ ballad, which to his credit David can sing very well. But there’s nothing inspiring or original about this.

Laura - This sounds like the template of every X Factor Winner’s Single ever, now with more broken English! Easily the most generic song of the lineup and probably the only one I wouldn’t go out of my way to listen to, so it’s my last place.


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